10 Best Boat Brands & Manufacturers: 2022 Edition
A key advantage of booking through Boatsetter is that you can try before you buy with all kinds of boat sizes, boat styles and boat brands.
At first, though, the sheer quantity of brands may feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to boating and just learning about all the different boat manufacturers. A good place to start is with some of the top-selling, well-established boat brands that have been around for a while, so you can get a feel for the wide variety of boats and models that exist.
Here’s a look at 10 of the best boat brands and manufacturers to get you started (listed in no particular order, and selected by category).
Category: Best Sailboat Boat Brand
Beneteau is a boat brand that got its start way back in 1884, in France. Today, Beneteau builds powerboats and sailboats alike, with six lines and close to 20 models of sailboats alone. Sailboats that Beneteau calls its heritage models—meaning they are no longer available new—are often available for bookings. Many owners keep their Beneteau sailboats for years or decades, because the boat brand is a proven pedigree that includes smart, comfortable features for sailing.
2. Nautique Boats
Category: Best Watersports Boat Brand
Nautique, which is well known for building the line of Super Air Nautique models, specializes in boats for wakeboarding, wakesurfing, water skiing and other tow sports. A Super Air Nautique boat, in particular, will have different styling and features than other boats the same size, to create things like better behind-the-boat wakes, and to make sure everybody on board has a good view of the action. The Nautique boat brand is also a leader in electric-boat design, with its new Super Air Nautique GS22E that just hit the market.
3. Pro-Line Boats
Category: Best Saltwater Fishing Boat Brand
Pro-Line Boats is a North Carolina boat manufacturer that got its start in 1968, building boats for local fishing guides. Today, Boatsetter customers can often find Pro-Line Express and Sport models that owners have decked out for whatever kind of fishing is best in their local waters. Features can include lighted baitwells, insulated fishboxes, out-of-the-way stowage for fishing rods, casting decks and more. Some also have booming sound systems for rock ’n’ rolling your way to and from the fishing grounds.
4. Tracker Boats
Category: Best Freshwater Fishing Boat Brand
The manufacturer Tracker Boats is based in Missouri, where it builds numerous types of boats, with a specialty in aluminum fishing boats. Its Bass Tracker is—as you might guess from the name—all about fishing. The Bass Tracker has a trolling motor, which is quieter than a traditional outboard motor, so there’s less chance of scaring away the fish. These motors also tilt, which means the boat can follow fish into the shallower areas, and the motors can help a boat stay put without needing to drop an anchor.
5. Sea Ray
Category: Best Yacht Brand
Sea Ray is a boat brand that is part of Brunswick Corp., which owns more than a dozen boat manufacturers as well as companies that make boat engines, parts and accessories. The company builds many different boat models, but its Sundancer series is so popular that it dates back more than 40 years. Sea Ray Sundancers come in various sizes, and are outfitted for family fun on the water, with safely enclosed seating up front for the kids and protection from the sun when needed.
6. Godfrey Pontoon Boats
Category: Best Pontoon Boat Brand
Godfrey Pontoon Boats has been in business for more than 60 years. It builds a half dozen styles of pontoon boats. These boats can be found with quite a few types of layouts, with some better for lounging, others better for onboard dining, and still others better for fishing or entertaining. Godfrey Pontoon Boats are a good option for anyone wanting to try before they buy, because this boat brand can help you experience different types of boating in the same overall length of pontoon boat.
Category: Best Day Cruising Boat Brand
Bayliner is another boat brand that is part of Brunswick Corp. Bayliner builds deck boats, center consoles and runabouts—which are different styles of boats that families tend to choose for a day of cruising with a little bit of watersports fun or fishing mixed in. Unlike specialty fishing or wakesports boats, Bayliner boats are more versatile, for people who want to try a bit of everything. These boats can be fully open to the sun or (in the case of center consoles) have hardtops that provide some shade.
Category: Best Personal Watercraft (PWC) Brand
Sea-Doo was one of the first-ever personal watercraft (PWC) brands to be mass-manufactured, and it is still a leading manufacturer of personal watercraft today. Various versions of Sea-Doos are made for all kinds of fun on the water: basic touring with one or more riders, fishing and even performing stand-up tricks. Sea-Doos can have sound systems on board, as well as space to pack a cooler. Some Sea-Doos are known as “muscle craft” and can achieve speeds of 60 mph.
9. Duffy Boats
Category: Best Electric Boat Brand
Duffy is a boat manufacturer whose name is synonymous with electric boats. The company has built them since 1970 for people who want to enjoy shorter-distance, slower-speed, near-silent cruising in a relaxed way with friends and family. There are numerous Duffy models—some a little bigger, some a little smaller, and all of them with a canopy or hardtop to provide some shade from the elements. Duffy boats can have regular seating as well as onboard dining, depending on how they are outfitted.
Category: Best Speedboat Brand
Chaparral is a boat manufacturer that has been building family boats since 1965, with a home base in Georgia since 1976. Over the years, numerous boating magazines have reviewed the various models that Chaparral sells, and the reviewers often have made note of the boats’ impressive speed at wide-open throttle (which is when a boat is moving as fast as it can go). Chaparral calls “high-octane pleasure” one of its standard features, with the option for quick acceleration built right into the boat’s design.
Kim Kavin has been on boats in more than 50 countries and islands, including in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. She grew up learning to steer a ski boat and Hobie Holder at her grandfather’s lake house in New Jersey, and went on to spend time aboard everything from America’s Cup racing sailboats to submarines.
Kim is a PADI-certified scuba diver and animal lover who always enjoys a good, long look around a coral reef. Her award-winning writing and editing regularly appears in national marine magazines and on leading websites. In her early years, she was a Dow Jones editing intern and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not writing, Kim can usually be found hiking northwest New Jersey’s beautiful park trails with her adopted shelter mutt, Ginger.